Controversy exploded over Wednesday’s night’s episode of Survivor: Island of the Idols when contestant Kellee Kim once again complained about inappropriate touching by a male player, Dan Spilo. Kellee had spoken to Dan back on day two of the game about the issue, however when the players were reunited at the merge and the behavior continued, Kellee broke down in an interview session with a producer, which led to the show intervening and talking with the cast about the issue.
A title card appeared on screen that read: “The following morning the producers met with all the players, both as a group and individually. They were cautioned about personal boundaries and reminded that producers are available to them at all times. Based on the outcome of those discussions, the game continued. In addition, producers met privately with Dan, at which time he was issued a warning for his behavior. Producers continue to monitor the situation.”
Many viewers were outraged that production had not stepped in sooner, and saw the reaction as a case of too little, too late. Host Jeff Probst discussed production’s response in an interview with EW. Now, CBS and producer Mark Burnett’s company (MGM, of which he is the chairman of worldwide television) have issued a joint statement, which follows:
“In the episode broadcast last night, several female castaways discussed the behavior of a male castaway that made them uncomfortable. During the filming of this episode, producers spoke off-camera to all the contestants still in the game, both as a group and individually, to hear any concerns and advise about appropriate boundaries. A formal warning was also given to the male castaway in question. On Survivor, producers provide the castaways a wide berth to play the game. At the same time, all castaways are monitored and supervised at all times. They have full access to producers and doctors, and the production will intervene in situations where warranted.”
Making matters even worse on the show, Kellee was the first player voted off after the intervention, and other female players (including Missy Byrd and Elizabeth Beisel) appeared to exaggerate or fabricate their own reactions to Dan’s inappropriate touching as a tool in the game, thereby undermining Kellee’s legitimate concerns and making Janet Carbin so distraught she had to be talked into not quitting the show.